Special Report: Mondo Movie Matinee #1 – By Jordan Garren

NOTE: Due to a major flub on my part, the pictures I had from this event were somehow deleted from my hard drive! I humbly apologize for this and hope that the lack of images doesn’t detract from the quality of this article. – Jordan Garren (Staff Writer)

Due to a schedule change, January’s Troma Weekend never happened. But that didn’t stop the (Reverend) Dr. Zombie MD from having an event for Mondo Movie Night fans. Being the cinematic pioneer that he is, the good Doctor managed to put together a quickie event: The first ever Mondo Movie Matinee! Instead of a late Saturday night, the show kicked off early on a Sunday evening and luckily I had the day off from work. Originally, my coworker and good buddy Steve was supposed to attend the event with me, but due to a death in the family, he couldn’t make it. In fact, every person that assured me that they’d be there never even showed up! All I have to say to you guys is this: You definitely missed out on a good time and you had better come to the next event! (And to Steve and his wonderful wife, I’m sorry for your loss.)

After a week and a half of nonstop work, going to this latest event was definitely a welcome respite (as was my good nine hour sleep the night before). After lounging about for a few hours, I finally made preparations and left for my destination. Once I entered the Scranton city limits, I drove to Tara’s house to pick her up. Though I wanted to be at the movie theater early, I couldn’t pull it off because Tara had a hankering for some Arby’s curly fries and roast beef sandwiches. Luckily the show hadn’t started by the time we arrived so I loitered by the vending table and perused the vast array of new DVD-R titles that Doc Zombie was selling. I ended up getting quite a few movies by the way, including Food of the Gods, Massacre Mafia Style, XTRO, Night of the Creeps, and Graveyard Disturbance. (I also purchased a brand new DVD of Conquest released by Blue Underground DVD!)

During the wait before the film began, I spoke with some fellow Mondo Movie-philes and hung out a bit with the Spookydudes Street Team. (Comprised of James O’Meara, Ryan Duda, and John Powell. You guys rock!) Along with Doc Zombie and myself, these three guys are responsible for the grass roots advertising for each Mondo Movie event. We distribute flyers, send out e-mails, post messages in forums, and use word of mouth to promote each Mondo Movie event in order to get more people to come and share in the fun. Anyway, while everyone was milling around outside the theater, Doc Zombie gave out free egg rolls. Now truthfully, I’ve never had an egg roll before, but I’m always up for trying out “foreign cuisine.” Unluckily for yours truly, these particular egg rolls weren’t very good and I ended up donating mine to a nearby trashcan. (Good god man! Was that thing even fully cooked?!) After finally dispensing of all the mini-egg rolls, Doctor Zombie ushered us to our seats so the show could begin.

Since the movie of the evening was The Story of Ricky, Doc Zombie had originally planned to have a martial arts demonstration before the film was shown. It seemed like a great idea, but unfortunately none of the area schools shared in his enthusiasm and refused to have anything to do with the event! Undaunted, Doc Zombie managed to snag a “kung-fu master” unlike any we have ever seen: Chongo, the Brass Monkey! (Actually Doc Zombie’s seemingly invincible roommate Nate in a gorilla costume!) “Chongo” came running, and rolling down the aisle and put on a quick show for the laughing audience. (Rented gorilla costume for movie event: $40. Using it to make people laugh: Priceless.) With his antics over, “Chongo” ran out of the theater and the 35MM filmstrip of The Story of Ricky (provided by Media Blasters) began to play.

I’ve seen this film many times and know the dubbed version by heart, but a majority of the audience members weren’t familiar with this ultra-gory kung-fu flick. For the uninitiated, Story of Ricky (a.k.a. Lai Wong, The King of Strength, Riki O, and Ricki-Oh: The Story of Ricky) is the tale of a young lad who’s sent to prison after avenging the death of his girlfriend. It’s the year 2001 and “prisons, like carparks” are privately owned franchises. Ricky is sent to one such prison where the criminals can leave their cells whenever they feel like, and each cellblock is ruled over by a super-powerful fighter. Oscar (a.k.a. Hai) runs the Northern cellblock, Tarzan (a.k.a. Taizan) rules the Eastern block, Rogan (a.k.a. Huang Chan) controls the Western block, and Brandon (a.k.a. Shorty) is the master of the Southern block. Each of the “Gang of Four” have their own special abilities and strengths, and pick a fight with Ricky at every turn.

Luckily, Ricky has super-strength and heals serious wounds overnight (with nary a scar) making him a very formidable opponent. Using his own powers and fighting skills, Ricky horribly maims and kills each of the Gang of Four to protect himself and his fellow inmates. Story of Ricky has many memorable moments and not one single character (minor or major) dies quickly and painlessly. Ricky punches holes through several of the film’s minor villains, shatters limbs, ties his tendons back together in one scene to keep fighting, restarts his own heart after receiving a “death strike,” and battles the jail’s warden at the film’s finale. It’s during this last fight that the movie takes it’s weirdest turn yet: The Warden morphs into a giant, snot-nosed monster with superhuman strength! At first the Warden creature has the upper hand, but Ricky comes out ahead after tossing his rubber-suited nemesis into a meat grinder! Needless to say, the entire crowd ate up all of the onscreen carnage (even though the screen would suddenly be tinted red during all of the extremely gory scenes) and cheers went up every time someone met a messy end at the hands of the film’s hero.

While I had a blast watching Ricky again, I think I had more fun watching and hearing everyone’s reactions to the film’s bloodiest scenes. I was sitting with most of the Spookydudes Street Team and their friends, and a lot of these guys were just plain dumbfounded by the amount of violence and gore this movie contained! It was like nothing they have ever seen before and they loved every second of it! After the film ended, I met up with Doc Zombie and a few other folks at Fresno’s Bar and Grill. (The roster of dinner guests included the Doc’s main squeeze, Carrie, Ryan Duda, a Spookydudes Street Team member, his buddy Brandon Wunder, a writer for Grindhouse: The Cult Movie Webzine, Nate, who portrayed “Chongo” mere hours ago, and Mike, a good friend of Doctor Zombie MD who has been attending every Mondo Movie event since the beginning!). We all had a blast and discussed future events (including a possible Mondo Movie Road Trip!), our favorite cult and horror films, and whatever else came to mind. One thing that a lot of us learned that night about Doc Zombie is that he actually is an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church and has been since the film festival last October!

Apparently anyone can become an ordained minister by visiting their website (but if you want to do weddings and such, you’ll have to pay a small fee to get a certificate of authorization!). And if that fact wasn’t eye-opening enough, it turns out that actor Sid Haig (best known as Captain Spaulding in House of 1,000 Corpses) is a fully ordained minister of the Universal Life Church as well. According to the Doc, Sid performs a lot of marriage ceremonies at horror conventions as Captain Spaulding! (I wonder if Doctor Zombie MD will follow in Sid’s footsteps and start holding marriage ceremonies during future Mondo Movie Nights? The mind boggles!) Well that concludes my coverage of Mondo Movie Matinee #1. Next up on the slate was Mondo Movie Night #6 which featured the indie film, Punk Rock Holocaust. Director Doug Sakmann was on hand after the film for a Q&A session and an after-party was held afterwards at Test Pattern (located at 334 Adams Avenue in downtown Scranton, PA)

For full coverage of the event (with a bonus article sent in by Doctor Zombie MD himself) please see my report on Mondo Movie Night #6 right here in this month’s issue.